When we were in the concept-phase of HAVEN, our urban surf shop in Antwerp, one thing was very clear: it had to be more than just about boards and apparel.
Music, art and photography should get its fair share in the shop. So we came up with the idea of monthly expositions with artists and/or photographers, whose work was inspired by the surf culture. It is a great way to offer a platform to artists and it’s a great way to gather people with common interests, something that was in the core-plan for HAVEN: to bring the like minded together to share ideas and experiences.
Filip and I were very excited about our new baby, but even in an early stage it was clear to us than we wouldn’t be able to go fulltime on our concept, so we needed a third man aboard. By accident we ran into WOUTER STRUYF, a young man who, and that was very clear from the first moment we met him, was passionate about surfing, but not in a way that Filip and I were.
This guy was hardcore! But in a very cool way. Not your typical surf-dude that ends every sentence with ‘Hang Loose’. No, not this guy. This guy was classy. This guy had style. This was the kind of guy that would fit perfect in HAVEN.
Apart from being passionate about surfing, Wouter has another dedication: one for photography. I am very honest if I say that it is very hard to find surf photography that is realised with an out-of-the-box attitude. To me, most surf photography appeals to the macho culture that hangs over it like an annoying fog. To me, that is not interesting. I’m interested in beauty, in melancholy, in images that take me somewhere where I would love to be. Not to a place where someone is doing something I’ll never be able to do.
You see the difference? Well, Wouter to me is that kind of photographer. The way he looks at things is different, the way he puts images on camera is different. He takes me to those places where I would love to be. For Filip and I, the sudden appearance of this guy was a dream come true. We had our third man AND we had our first artist in residence! AND, as a human being, he is amazing, a friend. We love him ...